Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Monsters Are Gone For Now

It's been over a month since my last TV Jumble Blog, so here's a look at some of the stuff I've been watching over the last while.

Catch-22: This miniseries came to a satisfying conclusion as Yossarian's repeated attempts to get out of service saw him hiding out briefly in an Italian village before he finally managed to get one over on his superiors. The show has been a good vehicle for actor Christopher Abbott, who definitely should land some bigger roles after this one and while George Clooney wasn't quite as utilised as the adverts would've implied, he had some decent moments as the somewhat antagonist of the piece.

Jessica Jones: The MCU Netflix has finally come to an end and the last few episodes of this show were certainly a mixed bag. I do think Foolkiller was a decent choice for a main baddie but he was mostly in the shadow of Trish, who felt like she was largely character assassinated for her main plot this season. A part of me would've loved a fourth season of this show (same with Daredevil) but given the sluggishness in parts, perhaps it's a good thing that the Netflix era of Marvel shows have now come to an end. At least Disney+ will have the sense not to have too many episodes for their upcoming shows.

Orange Is The New Black: Watching the seventh and final season, it feels right that the show is ending. The first seven episodes seems to be a good mixture of stories with Piper adjusting to the outside world, Taystee getting her fight back, a change in leadership in the prison, Alex and Daya running their own hustles in Litchfield Max, Aleida getting sent back to prison, the ICE storyline involving Blanca and Maritza and the dementia plotline with Red. There's certainly plenty of interesting plots at the moment and I can't wait to see what the remaining six episodes will do to conclude the series.

Pennyworth: If Krypton was a prequel idea too far, then this show will either be a frustration or an intrigue for you or very likely, both. The first five episodes have seen Alfred Pennyworth (lead actor Jack Bannon doing his best Michael Caine impression) working with both Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane, a few shadowy agencies looming in the background, a love interest dead and the old guard somewhat discarded but not totally gone. Paloma Faith hams it up a bit as Bet Sykes but she's arguably the best thing about the show that's fine but far from remarkable, though like Gotham it's penchant for gory violence is something to behold at times.

Stranger Things: I have absolutely loved the third season of this show and the more I think on it, the more I think it might be the show's best one yet. The second half was brilliant with it's individual team and even better when said teams banded together to save Hawkins yet again. It also had a much welcomed departure for Billy (even though this season did humanise him a little more) and perhaps Hopper. Nope, I don't believe Hopper is properly gone at all but damn if that letter scene with Eleven wasn't a teary moment. Then there's Robin, who was the best new character of the season, had a fabulous rapport with Steve and one of the best coming out scenes seen on recent television.  I'm assuming it's be 2021 before we get the fourth season of the show at the earliest.

Swamp Thing: It's a shame that this show has come to an end because the last few episodes really did up the ante big time with the main characters. I was hoping that maybe HBO Max would step in to save the series but it seems like this really was a one and done kind of show and that's a big shame. The cast had great chemistry, the horror element was fantastic and I would've liked to have seen Alec Holland go up against the Rot in a big way and even seen a formation of Justice League Dark. Alas, these things won't happen now.

The Good Place: I've really enjoyed the second season and after the events of this finale, I'm hoping that yet again, E4 don't wait too long to air the third season of the show. Sending the characters back to Earth is certainly an interesting move, even if the focus has initially been on Eleanor and her failed attempts to better herself as a person. I have also enjoyed the evolution of Michael and Janet's characters, the introduction of Hydrogen, the Tahani/Jason/Janet triangle and even Chidi making the odd assertive move here and there.

- Both Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford will be departing Legends Of Tomorrow midway through it's fifth season. Ramona Young will also be leaving the series.
- Krypton has been cancelled after two seasons by SyFy and the station won't be going ahead with their plans for a Lobo spin-off.
- Disney+ will be doing shows for She Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight as well as the five shows they previously announced.
- Mitch Pileggi has joined the cast of American Horror Story: 1984
- The third season of American Crime Story, entitled Impeachment will air in September 2020 on FX and will focus on the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal with Sarah Paulson,  Beanie Feldstein, and Annaleigh Ashford announced as main cast members.
- The 100 will end with seven seasons on the CW.
- Now Apocalypse has been cancelled after one season on Starz.
- Viola Davis will play Michelle Obama for Showtime's First Ladies show.
- The L Word: Generation Q will premiere in December on Showtime while the NBC streaming service will air the reboot of Queer As Folk.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar has joined the pilot for FOX series, Other People's Houses.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My Review of Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis (2015)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Orm (re Atlanna's murder): "I am your king...! I did this for YOU!"
Aquaman: "Is this the king you want, Atlanteans? A coward who lies to you? You need a light to guide you in the darkness, people of Atlantis. My people."

Following the events of Justice League: War, it was time for the Super Seven to get a name change and a new member and with this movie, both of those things happened without too much resistance. Based on the comic with the same title, this would be a rather suitable origin story for Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter).

In the present day we see Arthur get into a bar fight over a lobster while Mera (Sumalee Montano) observed from afar at the behest of Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) as the latter decides that her estranged son is ready to rule Atlantis over her more volatile other son, Prince Orm (Sam Witwer) who has formed an alliance with Black Manta (Harry Lennix) to declare war on the surface world.

Orm and Manta's union seems to be more on an equal footing compared to the 2018 live action Aquaman movie, at least until the final reveal that Manta was pulling the strings all along, manipulating Orm into going to war as well as putting Stephen Shin into Arthur's sight before Shin himself was killed.

Arthur's journey here isn't quite as compelling as the DCEU equivalent but it's still executed rather well as Mera introduced him to his homeworld before the League members themselves made their presence known to aid Arthur and Mera in taking out Orm and Manta, which naturally happens as Arthur then becomes King of Atlantis while Orm finds himself encountering Lex Luthor (Steven Blum) at his prison in Belle Reve, clearly setting a further movie down the line.

The Aquaman storyline is the main focus of the movie but there are still other moments for the League themselves. Shazam and Cyborg's friendship is still rather endearing to watch as well as the latter getting a love interest with STAR Labs scientist Sarah while Superman and Wonder Woman also get romantically involved, which I was a little keen on. Then there was Batman and Green Lantern who spent most of the time bickering while Flash didn't do too much but was still entertaining enough to watch.

- Nice cameo from Steel as a steel worker during the big battle sequence. Lois also managed to get in a sneaky comment about Clark and Diana's date.
- Atlanna was not a part of the comic this movie is based on but the movie also excluded several characters who were.
- There was also a brief cameo from the Scarecrow during the first scene with Batman and Green Lantern but that story was abandoned as well.
- Chronology: Not too long since the events of the last movie.

Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis is a solid opening for Aquaman and his underwater world. While some League members could've gotten some better storylines, they're all reasonably utilised and both Orm and Manta are satisfying villains in this one. Not my favourite of the animated movies but still a good one though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

My Review of Justice League: War (2014)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Jay Oliva

Shazam (to the US President): "That's right. You can call us the Super Seven."
Superman: "Please don't call us that."
Cyborg: "The Super Seven?"
Shazam: "What, you don't like it?"

Eh, it's not a bad title but considering that you would have more members, it might be a bit limiting though. Based on the Justice League: Origin comic, this one is a pretty simple adaptation as we see seven of our heroes take on Darkseid (Steve Blum) and do their best to stop him from taking over the planet and so on.

Things break off into some interesting rapport. First of all, there's Batman (Jason O'Mara), Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) and Superman (Alan Tudyk) who quarrel for a bit while intially fighting Parademons who are stealing people for Darkseid. One of the ongoing jokes in this movie is other heroes being surprised with Batman's existence, which I kind of found a little odd but fortunately, it's a joke that doesn't wear too thin though.

Of course while those three are getting to know each, Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan) has a meeting with the President and a group of protesters not happy with her attire to contend with as well. I'll admit that bit of the movie (along with the confession of one of the protesters being a cross dresser) did throw me off a little, but I did enjoy her brief scenes with Steve Trevor (George Newbern) and a little girl over an ice cream.

Then there was Victor Stone (Shemar Moore) and Billy Batson (Sean Astin). Their scenes were a highlight of the movie and it was nice to see a bit more of a friendly comrade as some of the other pairings were a bit too competitive at times. We got a good origin story for Victor as Cyborg along with his relationship with his father, Silas (Rocky Carroll) while Billy was more hostile with Freddy and Darla as well as being reluctant to tell the other team members that he was in fact, Shazam.

As for The Flash (Christopher Gorham), he kind of popped up towards the second half of the movie, seemed a little surprised too with Batman's existence and also clashed somewhat with Green Lantern but all seven of our heroes were instrumental in taking down Darkseid nonetheless by sending him back to Apokolips and breaking the hold he tried to have on Superman.

In terms of baddies, this was a solid use of Darkseid along with his Parademons and the sadistic, Desaad (Bruce Thomas) as all of them proved to be strong threats for the Seven before they were respectively defeated. The end scene with them all getting thanks for their heroics was a nice touch as the group reluctantly came together. They might need another name though.

- The post-credit scene showed Ocean Master with a dead King, setting up Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis.
- Really hated that loud mouthed protester calling Wonder Woman a whore.  I also noticed the Titans reference for Victor's football team.
- Thomas Morrow also briefly popped up in the movie, though his role was fairly small here.
- Chronology: Seems to be set in the present day for our main heroes.

Justice League: War isn't the strongest of the DCAU movies but it's a rather decent one nonetheless with some nice character moments and a good use of Darkseid. It does feel a little small scale, despite Darkseid being the main threat of the movie but that's not a bad thing and I did like the set up for the next movie.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, August 10, 2019

My Review of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Written by Jim Krieg
Directed by Jay Oliva

The Flash (re Nora): "I just wanted to save her."
Professor Zoom: "Her hero; how noble. Oh, wait! You didn't stop JFK from getting assassinated or make sure Hitler stayed in art school. You saved your mommy. You missed her. And in a supreme act of selfishness shattered history like a rank amateur, turned the world into a living hell moments away from destruction and I'm the villain?"

Probably the most infamous storyline with The Flash and the one that some fans have wanted to see in the DCEU despite the franchise having yet to do even a more straightforward Flash movie while also being something that CW would attempt to cover with The Flash TV series during it's third season. Of course the animated movie universe got in there earlier and with better results.

The general gist of the story being that Barry Allen (Justin Chambers) was haunted by his mother's murder (Grey DeLisle-Griffin ) at the hands of Reverse Flash (C. Thomas Howell) and did something rather reckless that would result in the world around him being changed in the most dramatic of ways. Namely being that saving his mother from death would cause everything else to go to hell.

Barry created a world where Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) would die and his father Thomas (Kevin McKidd) would be a far more brutal version of Batman while Martha herself would become the Joker. We see very little of the latter but the former becomes a grudging ally as Barry attempts to regain his powers in order to correct his biggest mistake.

It's a world where the biggest threats outside of Thawne are also Aquaman (Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), both of whom have become power mad dictators, killing at random anyone standing in their way and eventually going to war themselves, following Mera's decapitation after the latter had discovered the affair between the Atlantis and Themyscira rulers.

Seeing the brutal versions of Wonder Woman and Aquaman certainly made them bigger threat as we also saw the likes of Captain Atom, Steve Trevor, Lex Luthor, the Shazam family and even Lois Lane (Dana Delany) all suffer at the hands of both rulers but on the other side of the coin we also had the Flash, Batman and Cyborg (Michael B. Jordon) rescue Superman (Sam Daly) before the big confrontation between Barry and Eobard.

As for the rest of the movie, it plays out close enough to the comic with some alterations, including the method in which Eobard is slowed down but the result is the same with Barry correcting his mistake, moving past his guilt for Nora's death, talking to Iris and Batman in some rather poignant final scenes.

- Nice selection of Rogue members with Captain Cold, Heatwave, Top and Captain Boomerang all posing problems for Barry at the start of the movie.
- Harley Quinn went by Yo-Yo in this movie as well in the new world. It was also nice to somewhat see Deathstroke and Lex Luthor somewhat try to save the day, even if they failed.
- Sam Daly who voiced Superman in this movie is the son of Tim Daly who voiced the character in Superman: The Animated Series.
-We got a post credit sequence where some Parademons were coming to Earth, leading to the next film, Justice League: War, which I'll review soon.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox does a good job with taking the origin comics and unlike some other animated movies, the changes are minor and don't jar the original source material. It's definitely one of the best DC animated movies out there.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, August 09, 2019

My Review of Wonder Woman (2009)

Written by Gail Simone & Michael Jelenic
Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Wonder Woman: "You should have saved the world, instead of me."
Steve Trevor: "Maybe I figured the world's not worth saving if you're not in it."

Prior to her live action debut in Batman V. Superman back in 2016, Diana Prince (Keri Russell) did of course have another movie debut, albeit in animated form back in 2009 and after watching this film, it's easy to see what her 2017 live action adventure and what it decided to ditch and the results are rather interesting.

Things open with an ancient battle with Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) and the Amazons, led by the rather fight happy Artemis (Rosario Dawson) going up against the God Ares (Alfed Molina) and his son, Thrax (Jason Miller) and it's a pretty bloody start until both Zeus (David McCallum) and Hera (Marg Helgenberger) intervene and the best punishment for Ares becomes bondage as the Amazons forge a new world on Themyscira and Hippolyta herself becomes a mother to Diana.

As the movie quickly progresses, Diana has grown up, become able to easy take on Artemis in gentle sparring but has the desire to leave the island and search the world for adventures. The opportunities arises for that when pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) arrives on the island and Ares having taken warrior Persephone (Vicki Lewis) under his influence manages to escape from his prison and seek out both mankind and the underworld in his quest for revenge.

It's here that Diana proves herself in combat, gets the signature costume and heads to New York with Steve Trevor to hunt Ares down and while Diana's fish out of water experiences aren't as endearing as the 2017 movie, there are some nice moments in seeing her teach a young girl to sword fight and take on some muggers while Ares tried to keep Diana and Steve distracted with the brief appearance of Deimos (John DiMaggio), who is a little too easily taken care of here.

Then there's the trip to the underworld where human sacrifices are made and Ares managed to get his uncle Hades (Oliver Platt) to remove his bonds so that he could unleash his own hell on Earth. The fact that Hades so brazenly brandished Thrax as a servant gave Ares some pause for concern while also hinting at the fate that Ares himself would endure upon his inevitable defeat at Diana's hands.

The final battle itself is the clear highlight of the movie with Diana, Steve and the Amazons against Ares, Persephone and the army of the undead. It's gloriously shot, especially as fallen Amazon Alexa (Tara Strong) factored into saving the day while Ares defeat really did come at a rather humiliating cost. Then there was the fact that following the mission, Diana craved to see more of the world with Hippolyta realising that the Amazons could do with an ambassador outside of Paradise Island.

As for Diana and Steve - their scenes are a lot more caustic, especially with the latter's more blokey qualities being on full display but the rapport with Russell and Fillion is decent enough and by the end of this movie, they've settled into a rather nice form of domestic bliss.

- The movie ended with a nice cameo from Cheetah. We also got a rather bitchy version of Etta Candy in this movie, though her screentime was short.
- Rosario Dawson who voiced Artemis in this one would go on to play Diana in later DCAU movies, including the upcoming Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
- We nearly got Lynda Carter in this movie as Hippolyta but due to scheduling conflicts she declined the part.
- Chronology: Seemed to be modern day America.

Wonder Woman is a strong animated debut for the titular heroine of the piece and while I do think the live action movie of the same name that debuted eight years after this one is the better movie, there's certainly a lot to enjoy with this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Titans - Season 2 Trailer & Release Date Confirmed

With Swamp Thing now concluded, the DC Universe have focused their attention back to their first live action show Titans as yesterday saw a release for the trailer of the upcoming second season and we've got a lot too look forward to.

The Dark Knight Appears: In the first season we got the classic "Fuck Batman" line and when I say classic, I mean it became an instant meme as well as a misplaced attempt on the show's part to be a bit too gritty for it's own good. In the first season, Batman did appear in Dick Grayson's (Brenton Thwaites) nightmare world, courtesy of Trigon (Seamus Dever) but this season former Game Of Thrones actor, Iain Glen will be playing the older Bruce Wayne and it looks like we'll see his relationship with Dick onscreen. Whether or not we'll see Glen don the cowl remains to be seen though.

The New Titans: As Jason Todd (Curran Walters) seems to be rather proudly declare on live air - "Titans are back, bitches!" and he's not wrong. Even though there's still a Trigon sized cliffhanger to resolved (and he was nowhere to be seen in the trailer), we did see Dick inform Rachel Roth/Raven (Teagan Croft) that they're a team and there's a few nice shots of our main players, including Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) and Starfire (Anna Diop) getting into some scraps this season.

The Original Team: One of the standout moments of the trailer was the costumes and unlike last season where they seem to be sparingly used, this season might be a little different on that front. We got some I assume flashbacks to the original team with Robin I (Thwaites), Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie), Aqualad (Drew Van Acker), Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove II (Minka Kelly) and with Donna, Hank and Dawn all getting bigger roles this season, it's nice that we're getting to see Garth as well, though I am hoping we'll see him in the present day as well.

Newbies Galore: The most noticeable thing about this upcoming season is how much larger the cast will be. Coming back from last season are Robin I, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy while the likes of Robin II, Hawk, Dove and Wonder Girl are getting rightly expanded upon. We can also add Joshua Orpin's clone, Conner Kent/Superboy and Krypto into the mix and even then there are still more names that can be added to the roster for this season.

Meet The Wilsons: In terms of big bads, this show still has the task of putting the Trigon plot to rest and it seems like it'll be done rather quickly as one of the greatest assassins - Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Esai Morales) will be making his presence known, and he'll be joined by his kids - Joseph/Jericho (Chella Man) and Rose/Ravager (Chelsea Zhang) as we got to see the three of them make an impression on our main cast in the trailer. On top of that and tying in with Superboy's presence on the show, we've got Cadmus to contend with this season and on that front there's Lex Luthor's right hand woman, Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede) to deal with along with scientist Eve Watson (Genevieve Angelson). Whether or not Lex himself will materialise later in the season remains to be seen.

For a minute long trailer, they certainly packed a lot in there, went with a thankfully less angsty tone than the first season and with the amount of characters being added into the mix, it appears that Titans means business for it's second season.

Season 2 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qofev0x_wJo

Titans second season will premiere on DCUniverse from September 6th.